Fashym Goldmane, gnoll orator


Round 2: Create a villain concept

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Kurald Galain

Fashym Goldmane, gnoll orator

Male gnoll, ranger 2 / bard 5

Description: Fashym looks very different from your typical gnoll. His mane is well-combed, he wears clothing fit for an aristocrat, usually goes unarmed, and even wears boots. He tries very hard to be civilized and look the part. His feral nature is mainly apparent in his passionate, rousing speeches. When taking up a cause, he fights for it with ceaseless fury, and doesn't let go no matter what.

Background: At an early age, Fashym was abandoned by his pack. Although he likes to describe at length how his packmates were mercilessly slaughtered by a group of so-called heroes, the truth is less poetic: he was wounded during a hunt, and couldn't keep up as the pack traveled far through the country. After fending on his own for a brief period, he made his way to the outskirts of a human city. Among the many other humanoids traveling or living there, people didn't raise an eyebrow at a gnoll taking up residence.

Feeling the need for a pack around him, Fashym joined up with a group of thugs and lowlifes. Although his instincts drove him to fight to prove his worth, several confrontations with the city guard made him realized that violence was not condoned in the city. Laying low to observe the city folk, instead of simple might-makes-right, he saw a complex and multi-layered social order. Behavior in the city was just as nasty and ruthless as that in the wilderness, except that the battles were fought with words, not claws.

So he adapted.

It took time, it took changes, and it took a few knives in the proper backs. But now, Fashym wields considerable esteem and influence, particularly with the lower classes. Because of his race, he is barred from true political power, but he has the ear of the city.

Motivation: Fashym naturally craves status. He strives to the highest ranks, not so much for the power as for the esteem it brings him over the people below him. He frowns upon people that disrupt the social order, such as adventurers barging into "his" city. As a non-human, he feels kinship towards other feral races, such as orcs, lizardfolk, or trolls. He uses his rhetoric to argue for good trade relations and to oppose militaristic action those orcs, even if they out to be bloodthirsty marauders. He's quick to point how civilization treats the "outcasts" wrongly, and how a troll should be forgiven for killing humans since he was "obviously" provoked.

In other words, he is perfectly capable of making a party of orc-slaying heroes look like vile murderers throughout the city, using his connections and evocative speeches. He has enough allies in low places who will want to teach that party a lesson, while Fashym remains a respectable citizen. While his manner and dress might suggest he is not much of a combatant himself, that mistake could prove fatal.

Contributor

Initial Impression: A believable, nicely-drawn NPC. Not sure he’s much of a villain at all. Perhaps for a novice-level party of PC adventurers who rub him the wrong way.

Concept: A well-thought-through integration of a gnoll into a multi-racial city. A “street tough” or “alley boss,” who will make a good long-term villain only if he survives encounters with the PCs (if he runs, he’d lose his street cred, and he hasn’t been portrayed as a back-down-from-opponents sort).

Execution: Some minor grammar glitches, but good, clear communicative prose that gives a DM “absolutes” about the character and not a lot of guesswork. What's missing is use of the "orator" bit, which could lift Fashym from the role of "one-shot, soon-downed" minor villain to the role of "pain in the PCs' collective behinds" who can mobilize a neighborhood or even a city against them.

Tilt: Too ordinary, weak, and lacking in exciting spice to be much of a villain, memorable or otherwise. Could make a great supporting cast “manipulator” sort (the character who steers PCs into battles with nasty foes, or who frames them for the misdeeds of others). Yet I’m reaching for possibilities here, not having vivid, grab-me play possibilities laid before me in the entry.

Overall: Fashion (sorry, “Fashym;” say the name aloud a couple of times and ask yourself if you can live with it in play, or are unintentionally coming up with something that won’t fit well with the setting - - and if that’s a deliberate choice, urkhh) is fading away in my mind already. He’s well-drawn, but just not villainous enough. He comes across as a bystander in a fight scene, or “a guy who goes down in one blow,” not a villain. He might survive to become more powerful if he was a skulker, but he’s not portrayed as having carved out such a niche; he “as the ear of the city.” Which means he’s going to end up lying in a spreading puddle of his own gore the moment he deals with most PC parties.

Recommendation: Sorry, not recommended for advancement.

Contributor

This would be an interesting NPC used as a contact for a rogue or bard in a city, but he's not really villainous.

His motivation is status, which he has. Nothing malevolent or villainous about that.

The entry lacks the schemes/plots/adventure hooks section required by the contest rules (unless you count "he can make the PCs look like murderers" as a plot hook).

NPC does not meet the criteria of the contest rules.

Rec: do not advance.

Legendary Games, Necromancer Games

Gosh darn I like this NPC a TON!

But that's just it. He's an NPC. He has motivations, yes. But they are not truly villainous.

I have to admit, I loved the idea of a gnoll bard when I read: "Behavior in the city was just as nasty and ruthless as that in the wilderness, except that the battles were fought with words, not claws. So he adapted."

But again, that is not a villain.

NOT recommended. Fails to meet requirements of the contest, in my view.

Its up to the voters to decide.

The Exchange Kobold Press

Wow, from here it sure looks like a mistake to give us a long backstory section instead of plots/hooks/adventure seeds. Big, big mistake. While it makes Fashym a well-rounded NPC, it does nothing to tell me exactly how he interacts with the party, and why they will need to thwart him. It's a classic case of creeping backstory, which designers (and to be fair, some DMs) love, but players care little about.

The design fails to create a logical narrative or campaign arc for Fashym over time. No longevity, no ambition big enough to force the PCs to action. Not really a villain.

Recommendation Failed to provide a villain with depth and hooks. Not recommended.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 8 , Marathon Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7 aka Demiurge 1138

There's a glimmer of awesomeness to be had here. The idea that he uses his oratory to brand the PCs as murderers in the eyes of a more monstrous underclass. In a setting like Eberron, or a highly integrated city in Golarion like Kaer Maga, that could be a fantastic villain. But it's just a tiny hint lost in a sea of backstory. You had me, then you lost me, I'm afraid.


The prose was good, and totally hooked me (A gnoll being a person of influence? Do go on!), but without plot hooks I'm not sure where to go with this. Mostly I just want to give him a hug and a pat on the head.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

GolarionMidwife wrote:
Mostly I just want to give him a hug and a pat on the head.

Always a risky endeavor when a gnoll is involved!

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32 aka Gamer Girrl

Oops, failure to follow the format is a big negative. And while he could be villanous, he's not a villain. Sorry.

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Reckless Ratings

Concept2
(Is this villain villainous?)
Content2
(Grammar, Format,Spelling, Etc.)
Coolness3
(Would my players be impressed by this? Am I?)
Credibility4
(Does the villain’s motives make sense?)
Clarity3
(How good a sense of how to stat this villain do we get?)

Scores out of 5 and completely based on my opinion only.
Total Score14


Okay, I was not a fan of the Withering Hourglass, but this entry is the first villain entry with something in it to actually make me laugh out loud. It could have used more detail, on just how Fashym causes PCs grief.

I don't know if this entry does enough to be the 'Blink Dog Nation' of the 2009 contest, heavily panned by the judges, but somehow fascinating to the voting public.

Will this villain cause the PCs grief?
Umm, yes. If they don't successfully run him through within thirty seconds of encountering him.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6 , Dedicated Voter Season 6

There's an incomplete sentence in the middle that never should have gotten past a "read aloud" pass at editing. That plus some earlier prose that just doesn't sing is a down check.

The NPC itself is one of few I've read tonight that comes alive for me. I like his background, I care about his struggles. I like the faux-civilizing of the gnoll, and the pack hunter's approach to city life.

Like the judges, I agree this is a worthy NPC, not a quality villain. He might well take life in my campaign - but he won't take my vote. But keep writing - the idea's good and the NPC takes life from your description.


I have a soft spot for bard villains. This entry is just begging for one of my earmarked votes...

This is a low-level villain for low-level city campaign, which incidentally is a type I enjoy. And even in higher levels, yes, he could be killed in seconds, but that's where that influence and popularity comes in: whoever kills him will not look good. A classic type of "how to cause grief with 1st-level aristocrat".

With all this, plot hooks are kind of missing as is general "so what does this guy do then?" which means I won't promise my vote for this yet. But it is a candidate.


This is a tough one. The subtitle "gnoll orator" hooked me right away, but here's the thing -- there's really nothing inherently evil about what he's doing. Put another way, if a good-aligned NPC was espousing the same views as Fashym Goldmane, he might be an annoyance or a political obstacle for the PCs, but he wouldn't be a villain simply by having those views and talking about them. As a result, neither is Fashym.

Don't get me wrong, I think this is a phenomenal NPC, and a version of him will almost certainly make it into the next suitable campaign I run. You've got some real writing talent, but I think you missed the mark by a bit here.

CR

Liberty's Edge Marathon Voter Season 6, Marathon Voter Season 7, Champion Voter Season 8

Poor writing.

Unbelievable backstory.

"" wrote:
Among the many other humanoids traveling or living there, people didn't raise an eyebrow at a gnoll taking up residence.

A dog man moves into town and no one cares? What a shame. I really wanted to see a Gnoll Villain. This does not have superstar in the writing.

"" wrote:
In other words, he is perfectly capable of making a party of orc-slaying heroes look like vile murderers throughout the city

I can't see how, effectively anyway, he could pull this off.


Winterwalker wrote:

Poor writing.

Unbelievable backstory.

"" wrote:
Among the many other humanoids traveling or living there, people didn't raise an eyebrow at a gnoll taking up residence.

A dog man moves into town and no one cares? What a shame. I really wanted to see a Gnoll Villain. This does not have superstar in the writing.

"" wrote:
In other words, he is perfectly capable of making a party of orc-slaying heroes look like vile murderers throughout the city

I can't see how, effectively anyway, he could pull this off.

There are numerous towns mentioned in the Golarion Campaign Setting where Fashym wouldn't be out of place. Kaer Maga, probably any settlement in Belkzen, any of the pirate settlements in The Shackles, possibly Ilizmagorti, Katapesh....

Heck, Fashym would probably be a lot more refined and 'well-spoken' then most of the regular inhabitants in several of those places.

Liberty's Edge

great NPC... I really liked him and found he could easily come to life... I have but one doubt... where is the Villain?


3/10

A cleaned-up gnoll. Doesn't have a lot of "villain" in him. Also, depends on a city allowing even washed-and-brushed gnolls to rove around free.


Cool NPC, but I don't see him plaguing the PCs for very long...

Scarab Sages Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 4, Legendary Games

It's been said already: Very cool NPC. Not really much of a villain.


I think perhaps a few more specifics on 'contacts' and other resources Fashym can call upon would have made this entry. The names (and perhaps levels if the rules allowed that) of a few of the gangs or individuals he can 'whip up' against the party; perhaps the name of a friendly official if the city has a city guard.
I also feel that not naming a specific Golarion city where he operates from, so that those familiar with the setting could be satisfied that 'gnoll in a city' more than works in this case, may have been a slight error.
The 'political/public manipulator' villain who happens to be a gnoll bard seems to me to be an original twist. The entry says that 'He strives to the highest ranks, not so much for the power as for the esteem it brings him over the people below him', but I feel that at least one specific long term goals (does he intend to become lord mayor or a refined officer in the armed forces if the city has organised such things?) would have helped the entry.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2013 , Dedicated Voter Season 6, Dedicated Voter Season 7, Dedicated Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka Steven T. Helt

Such a poorly developed "villain" that it might be said you didn't even follow the rules for the round. With no plots or adventure hooks, what motivation does a DM have to insert this gnoll into his campaign?

Now, I get that his search for social status is based on an alpha dog instinct, but that's what is lacking. A glib tongue, a disciplined mind, and a feral face can combine to make a great villain, but without a peek behind the scenes and a volley of evets that connects the PCs to him, I'm not motivated to advance Fashym to the mechanics round.


A good character, certainly, and well written. But we have to get a way through the write-up to see how he could be used as a villain. Even then, it's more of a minor one, especially as he seems to have little motivation to act against the PCs. He's the sort of chap you could even use as a a slightly dodgy ally, if the PCs work at it well enough.

He wouldn't really work in my campaign, either... which certainly isn't the fault of the writer, but is enough to make me decide to spend my precious four votes on something I can make real use of. Sorry.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16 , Star Voter Season 6, Star Voter Season 7, Star Voter Season 8, Star Voter Season 9 aka JoelF847

This is a cool NPC as others have said, but it reads to me like the subplot of a TV episode where some reporter decides to make the heroes lives of stoping bad guys difficult by painting them bad. Just a subplot, and not even a villainous one at that.

I did like that the description reminded me of the gnoll pimp illustration in the D20 Modern book though.


Commiserations.
Sadly, I suspect Fashym may have had bigger plans than were perhaps made clear.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32 aka Kurald Galain

Thanks for the feedback, everyone, and see you next year!

This was fun to write, but admittedly a bit of a rush job (which is my own fault for having too little free time left these weeks). With some more polish, I might have done a better job. Anyway, best of luck to the other contestants!

(and just for the record, no, the name was not intended as a pun, and I have never read the d20 modern book so am unaware of any pimp illustrations :) )

Star Voter Season 6

JoelF847 wrote:

This is a cool NPC as others have said, but it reads to me like the subplot of a TV episode where some reporter decides to make the heroes lives of stoping bad guys difficult by painting them bad. Just a subplot, and not even a villainous one at that.

.

Check out Battlestar Galactica's "Final Cut" for how to do that ploy right...

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